Monday, January 03, 2011

Dar tightens security amid growing Al-Shabaab threat

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Tanzania has deployed more security personnel equipped with high-tech equipments to detect bombs at Julius Nyerere International Airport amid the growing terrorism threat by Al-Shabaab militias, The Guardian on Sunday has learnt.

According to reliable sources, the move was taken after intelligent reports hinted that there were plans to bomb Dar’s International Airport during the Christmas and New Year eves.

The terrorism threat was detected just a day after the bomb explosion at a bus station in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, which left three people dead and injured 39 others.

The blast happened as passengers passed through a security checkpoint before boarding a coach, which was bound for Kampala in neighbouring Uganda.

The Islamist group al-Shabab in July said it had carried out twin bomb blasts in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, in retaliation for Uganda's support for Somalia's government.

Most of the wounded were Ugandans travelling home for Christmas. The blast smashed the windows of the Kampala Coach vehicle, and left blood stains and scattered bags on the ground nearby.

Following the alerts, all vehicles entering Julius Nyerere International Airport have been undergoing section inspection using a bomb-detecting machine, in a move to curb the growing threat in the region.

At all entry and exit check points, there are fully armed police force accompanied by senior detectives who closely monitor the movement of passengers and non-passengers at the Julius Nyerere International Airport.

The Guardian on Sunday has learnt that passenger and cargo screening at the country’s biggest airport has been tightened , and more scanning machines have been installed there.

A senior police official who declined to be named told The Guardian on Sunday: “We have been alerted by both the police and intelligence officials about the possible terror attacks…that’s why security has been tightened here.”

“We have taken all precautionary measures to ensure that no terrorism attacks are made…we have also established security at many key places in the city including bus stations, hotels and other recreational centres during Christmas and New Year eves, ” the police official added.

Efforts to contact the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Robert Manumba, proved futile yesterday as his phone wasn’t reachable throughout the day.

The deadly bombings in Kampala during the World Cup final in July, last year, raised concerns over whether the newly formed East African Community is equipped and coordinated enough to ensure the region's security.

US analysts and officials have said the emergence of Al-Shabaab on the world stage fits a pattern of localised Islamic militant groups that have been increasingly able to mount sophisticated operations farther and farther from their base.

Al-Shabaab has been in the cross hairs of intelligence and counterterrorism officials for years. But the group’s growing force and alliances with a shifting array of Somali warlords has posed a constant, vexing challenge for the international communities’ efforts to bolster Somalia’s weak government and stabilise the country.

Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen - Arabic for "Movement of Warrior Youth" - more commonly known as al-Shabaab, is an Islamist insurgency group in the ongoing war in Somalia.

The group is said to control most of the southern and central parts of Somalia, including "a large swath" of the capital, Mogadishu, where it is said to have imposed its own "harsh" form of Sharia law.

By the end of 2009, the movement had an estimated 10,000 militias, including foreign recruited and trained terrorists.

The group is an off-shoot of the Islamic Courts Union, which splintered into several smaller groups after its removal from power by Ethiopian forces in 2006.

The group describes itself as waging jihad against "enemies of Islam" and is engaged in combat against the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), of which Uganda is a part.

No comments: